Webb Review – Always Good by Gary Heskins and Kerry Sullivan

Always Good is a full colour children’s book written by Gary Heskins and illustrated by Kerry Sullivan, it is the story of a boy named Bobby Mac who sees the world differently to everyone around him. Teaching that the world is full of more than just material possessions and that you can be happy without all of them. Happily Bobby Mac sees his family as the richest treasure he could have. It is a feel good story with a heart of gold that tries to see the best in not having much.

Bobby has a wonderful family and they have taught him a lot about gratefulness and I think that it is a great lesson especially for children that aren’t in a position to have all of their wants met straight away. For the even children that are lucky enough to have everything, this story teaches to be a little more humble and to look at what really matters in your life.

Harrison and I really enjoyed this book, it is bright and colourful, has a clear message and was easy to read. It helped us to discuss what we take for granted in our life and how we could be more grateful for what we have too.

The illustrations by Kerry Sullivan are great, the style is very friendly and appealing to young children and old with lots of action going on, Harry particularly enjoyed the illustrations of the animals and the children playing football. Every page is jam packed with colour and energy, the characters really stand out.

The book is let down by a lack of punctuation which is very hit and miss, some pages have capital letters and full stops and others have no punctuation at all which does bother me when reading aloud especially. It could use the help of a good editor to just polish off what is a great story.

I was concerned that the book promoted an unhealthy, ideal version of being ‘always good’ however the main character does admit that he does have bad days too, which was a great addition to the story in my opinion because it is hard to be happy all of the time and is an unrealistic expectation to put on yourself or other people but it is possible to always be grateful for what you do have.

Always Good is available now from Shookbop.

Harrison and I think that this book would be great for children who are struggling to see that other people live different lives and have different lifestyles but it doesn’t make your life any less valuable. We all have moments of envy and this book would be a good one to read in those moments.

Awarded 4 out of 5 webs.

Harrison awarded Always Good 4 out of 5 webs, the story is great and the illustrations are beautiful, it just needs some work on the punctuation and grammar.

We were sent this book by Stour Valley Publishing for review, the thoughts and opinions are our own.

Thank you so much for reading our review,

Samantha and Harrison.

Webb Review – Busy Buzzy Bee by Stacy, Anske and Elodie Bax

It is not often that a book is created so beautifully and by a whole family at that. Created by the Bax family and written by mum Stacy Bax, Busy Buzzy Bee is a story that has been created from five year old Elodie’s watercolour paintings. The whole process is really creative and inventive. The mix of the innocence of Elodie’s five year old imagination painting flowers in beautiful colours combined with the parents bees makes it really magical.

Beautiful cover of Busy Buzzy Bee.

The story has some great repetition and tells children just how important bees are and how busy they are making sure that all of their jobs are done. It inspires children to look after the bees and help them as much as possible without getting too scientific and confusing.

The text is great but it is formatted in a confusing way, it could definitely be clearer but it doesn’t take much away from the story all and since it is surrounded by a literal hive of bee activity I can see how it would be difficult to format the text around it.

The back of the bus has a bonus poem and a lovely illustration dedicated to the heroes that are our amazing NHS and all they have accomplished throughout the global pandemic. It is really heartwarming.

Harrison loved the little bees.

I am a big fan of bee books and encouraging children to look after our fluffy little friends as you will know if you have seen my book Blake the Bee Who Believed or the book I illustrated for Simon Henderson, The Soggy Little Bee. It is amazing that all of these bee books can be teaching a similar message and still be amazingly different. Bees really are magical and Busy Buzzy Bee really shows that magic.

Harrison really enjoyed looking at all of the little details in the illustrations, he spent a long time looking at all of the individual bees and deciding on his favourite ones. He really engaged with the illustrations as much as the story. The colours and the beautiful illustrations really do catch your eye.

Harry awarded 5 out of 5 webs.

Busy Buzzy Bee is available now on Shookbop.

This book was sent to us for review by Stour Valley Publishing and the opinions are all our own.

Thank you so much for reading our review,

Samantha and Harrison.

Webb Review – Pencil Case Pals, Peaty Pencil Learns To Help

Written by Tazkia Dokrat and illustrated by Kerry Green, Peaty Pencil Learns To Help is a lovely little book about a pencil who is great at academics and not so great at sports (I can instantly relate!)

The pencils are adorable.

Peaty Pencil has to learn that everyone has strengths and weaknesses and that helping each other really helps everyone. It is a very cute book and the pencils have so much personality. I am a massive stationary addict (Hoarder?) and seeing these little pencils chatting and running is just charming. It is a really cute idea. It isn’t easy to give emotion and movement to inanimate objects and Kerry Green does it really well.

Harry and Peaty Pencil Learns To Help.

The font selection is a little strange as random words throughout the text are given extra emphasis with decorative fonts, it does add to the interest on the text only pages. It is only a short story but is one of a series of Pencil Case Pals and we would be really interested to see the rest too.

We were curious on pages where Peaty Pencil and friends were sat writing with little pencils, did those little pencils have personalities too? That would be super cute but could go on forever.

Harrison gave this book 4 out of 5 webs.

This book was sent to us for review by the publisher Stour Valley Publishing and our opinions are our own.

Available now from Shookbop.

Thank you so much for reading our review,

Samantha and Harrison.

Webb Review – Munchkin’s Adventure by Karen Farrell and Grandma Robyn

If you have ever sat and watched a baby play you can see that their minds are working constantly, figuring out the world around them. In Munchkin’s Adventures you get a glimpse into what Alice (Munchkin) is daydreaming about and her imagination is running wild while she is spending her day with her family doing very ordinary activities.

Beautiful soft watercolours.

Written by Karen Farrell and illustrated by Grandma Robyn, this story is enchanting and so are the illustrations. The imaginary adventures are varied and fun, from a rocket ship to a mermaid lagoon just like on the cover. Harry thought that he could imagine his baby cousins going on all of these fantastic adventures to all of these magical places. Wouldn’t it be amazing if they could really tell us about them all?

The text is simple to follow and it is laid out really nicely, you can see what Alice is really doing and what she is imagining easily which allows the illustrations to shine. They are really delicate and soft watercolours that are perfect for the tone of the gentle story.

Munchkin’s Adventure is a beautiful story.

The cover initially seems very girly, we don’t buy based on gender stereotypes in our home, we just read what we like. Hopefully the pink doesn’t put anyone off though because the story really is great for anyone, boys and girls can daydream of being merpeople and astronauts alike. Harry really enjoyed it and thought that the baby was very sweet.

Munchkin’s Adventures is available now on Shookbop.

The publisher sent us this copy for review and the opinion are all our own.

Thank you for reading our review.

Samantha and Harrison.

Webb Review – Stick It Brit By Jenny Neal

Written and illustrated by Jenny Neal, Stick It Brit is a children’s book that helps to encourage children to learn in their own unique ways.

Stick It Brit was not at all what I was expecting from the title, both Harrison and I thought wrongly that the book would be about Brit giving up or telling someone to leave them alone, perhaps it is a regional dialect thing but saying ‘stick it’ is not the positive message that we soon found this book to be. It was made very clear very fast that the stick which was being referred to was actually sticky notes!

Stick It Brit.

Stick It Brit is the story of a little girl who is struggling to learn spelling and vocabulary and uses sticky notes to help often with hilarious results (have you tried to pop a sticky note on a cat? Brit did!). It was great to see Brit not only recognise her own struggles but to find a way to work through them too. A story of perseverance even when it isn’t easy and that practice will make your tasks easier.

It is a great story that shows not everyone will learn in the same way and that you need to find the way to suit you best.

The illustrations are bright, bold and colourful. I really like the energetic backgrounds on every page, there is not a single page that lets down that energy which carries the enthusiasm throughout the book. It is educational without losing track of the story and would be a great motivator to a child who is struggling to find their own way of learning.

Harrison enjoyed Stick It Brit.

Harry really enjoyed the story too and thought that the idea was brilliant, he suggested that each book should come with a pack of sticky notes to get you started.

Stick It Brit also raises money for Twinkling Stars, Stillbirth Bereavement Services which just makes it even more special.

Harrison awarded Stick It Brit 5 webs out of 5.

Published by Stour Valley Publishing and available now from Shookbop.

This book was sent to us for review and these opinions are our own.

Thank you so much for reading our review.

Samantha and Harrison.

First Song is now available

First Song is the story of a little girl who has her life turned upside down by a her new baby brother who just will not stop crying. Mum, Pops, Nana and Grandpops all try hard to soothe the baby but are unsuccessful, can his big sister find the way to help him sleep?

Dedicated to my own daughter who has always been the best big sister anyone could wish for even if she does argue like crazy with her little brother, no one else is allowed to treat him badly, she is his protector. My Webblings are my inspiration and that has never been more obvious than in this new book.

My beautiful Webblings.

I have written the story and illustrated it digitally, I have been growing and improving, trying to get as much texture and life into digital art as I do with watercolours. It is a process that I have really enjoyed and I hope that it shows with First Song. I know that I still have a lot to learn about story writing and illustration but I am really proud to share this story with the world.

First Song has arrived.

First Song was released yesterday and has had a great reception so far, I can’t thank my family and friends enough for the encouragement and support that they have given me throughout the whole process.

Published by Moby and Puddle Books.

Available from Amazon and Folksy now.

I hope you like it as much as I do!

Samantha Webb.

One of my favourite background details in First Song.

Webb review – Sid the snail has lost his trail by Chloe Helene Harding

Sid The Snail Has Lost His Trail is written by Chloe Helene Harding and illustrated by Marife Gonzales, a picture book written in rhyme that aims to teach children perseverance. Sid gets separated from his mummy in bad weather and has to find his way home alone but it is not an easy journey.

Available from Shookbop.

Harrison and I really enjoyed Sid’s story, it is simple to follow and is full of heart. Sid meets lots of friends on the way and listens to their advice not to give up. I think that children will really relate to Sid, even now I can remember that fear when I was lost as a child (only for a few moments luckily) and the fear of being alone is real. It also shows that Mummy and the whole family never gave up looking for Sid either which I think is a really important part of the story too. The main theme is perseverance and that is exactly what Sid will learn by the end of his journey.

Harrison loves Sid The Snail

The illustrations by Marife Gonzales are absolutely beautiful. A mix of digital and collage with lots of texture. They are bright and impactful and match the tone of the story from page to page. My favourites were the trees, leaves and flowers whereas Harry really loved the characters especially Len the louse. It has a very cheerful overall feel to the story despite some of the darker parts when Sid is scared and lonely.

A great bedtime story.

Sid The Snail Has Lost His Trail made a great bedtime story all snuggled up and ready to sleep. We were very glad that there was a happy ending, a really warm and fuzzy happy ending to Sid’s journey. We would highly recommend this story for your bedtime routine, it was heartwarming and wholesome.

The author, Chloe Helene harding is an advocate of Growth Mindset especially in children and the book includes a great explanation about how helping a child to develop a growth mindset will help them in the future to nurture themselves and the world around them. I believe that this is incredibly important and something that is too often overlooked. Seeing it in the back of the book can be really enlightening to parents and carers, it is in my opinion a great addition. It is a great lesson for adults too and we all need a reminder sometimes.

Stour Valley Publishing are the publishers behind the story and they sent it to us for review and we are very glad that they did, we have really enjoyed getting to know Sid and the world that the author and illustrator have created together. Hopefully it is the first of many.

Harrison awarded 5 out of 5 webs.

Harrison has awarded this book 5 out of 5 webs and has asked if he can read it again soon. I think he will probably enjoy it even more when he isn’t so sleepy too.

You can get your own copy now from Shookbop.

This review is all of our own opinions and is not a paid review.

Thank you so much for reading,

Samantha and Harrison Webb.

Webb Review – Introducing Sherman by Ruth Drury

Introducing Sherman available from Shookbop.

Introducing Sherman is a picture book written and illustrated by children’s author Ruth Drury. As the title suggests, the story introduces Sherman, a character who has a very unique job, he is responsible for the anxious feeling in the pit of our stomachs when we feel ashamed of something we have done or are about to do. Poor Sherman has had enough of his job and wants to retire.

The story is a teaching aid to help children recognise why they might feel ashamed and ways that they might find helpful to stop them feeling bad. Showing that shame is a natural and normal emotion that doesn’t have to linger for long.

Sherman is a complex character that Harrison and I enjoyed discussing. The concept of emotions is a difficult one to portray as a character and Sherman is a good example of it done well. I am not sure that either of my children would of really grasped the concepts that Introducing Sherman was describing when they were 4-7 years (which is the target age for the book) but at 9 years old it started some really deep conversations. I think that if you have a child who is struggling with feelings of self doubt and anxiety then this book could help them to recognise their emotions.

I get the impression from the cover that Sherman is only one of ‘The Shenanigans’ and that we will possibly see more in the future although it doesn’t make it clear in the book so I cannot be sure.

Harry learning about Sherman.

The illustrations are bright and eye catching with a collage feel to them. The character of Sherman is definitely the star of the book and stands out despite being surrounded by an array of other characters, his little red pants are just brilliant. It is a unique style of illustration and I really enjoyed the full pages with lots and lots of detail. There are a few pages where the characters inexplicably have no faces despite all of the other characters having faces which was a little off putting because they didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the illustrations throughout the book. If you are looking for a book absolutely jam packed full of colour then you will enjoy Introducing Sherman and I don’t think it is a style that I have come across before.

Harrys favourite page.

Of course Harrys favourite part was always going to be when a granny shouts ‘BUM!’ It sort of comes out of nowhere and although I didn’t really understand why the granny was shouting or who she was shouting at, Harry didn’t care in the least, he thought it was hilarious and that Sherman should perhaps just make everyone shout ‘BUM!’ all the time and he might not want to retire anymore.

Introducing Sherman is a bright colourful book that will help you start a conversation with your child about the emotion of shame and how to overcome that feeling so that it doesn’t stop them from doing things they enjoy. The vibrant palette and all of the small details in the illustrations elevate the story to make it more fun.

Harry awarded Introducing Sherman 3 out of 5 webs.

Harry has awarded Introducing Sherman 3 out of 5 webs, he did struggle to understand the concept without us talking it through but he really liked Sherman and all of the illustrations. It is not a book that we would read a lot but it is one that will be great to come back to when we need to discuss emotions and we both hope that Sherman is just the first of The Shenanigans.

Harry and Introducing Sherman.

You can learn more about Introducing Sherman and Ruth Drury’s books on Ruth’s website. Or grab your own copy of Introducing Sherman now from Shookbop.

Thank you so much for reading our review,

Samantha and Harrison x

Please note that this book was sent to us for review, this is not a paid review and is completely our own views.

FIRST SONG Cover Reveal

First Song is a brand new book which I have spent months writing and illustrating, I am so happy to finally reveal the cover ahead of the launch on September 13th! And here it is …

First Song Written and illustrated by Samantha Webb.

First Song is the story of a very fed up big sister who is having to learn that life with a new family member isn’t all fun and games. All baby wants to do is cry and the adults just can’t seem to soothe him no matter what they try.

This story is dedicated whole heartedly to the very best big sister that I have ever known, Lilly Summer Webb. Who even now at age 13 when she should be all surly and moody, will drop everything to be there for her brother if he is hurting. Both of my Webblings inspire me constantly but the bond they share is something that is so beautiful to watch from the outside. Don’t be fooled, they fight all the time but she has his back when he needs it too.

The story is written in rhyme and is fully illustrated in a new style that I have really been enjoying and hope that you will too! None of the characters are named because I hope you have siblings that will relate to them, maybe you could name them for me?

I am a bit mad on ‘art of …’ books because I love to see the concept art behind my favourite stories. Here is a little look at some of the behind the scenes sketches from First Song, very rough ideas. The finished book is digital but all of my initial ideas are done with paper and pencil.

Big sister concept sketches.

I had quite a clear idea of how I wanted the sister to look, sort of a wild version of Lilly I suppose. I did try lots of other ideas but I kept coming back to this one.

Choosing colours.

I wanted to have a deep earthy feel to First Song but trying to decide on a colour palette without it all blending together was difficult. My initial (Top Left) idea was what I had pictured before I started creating my character but I felt like she looked a little cold and needed warming up. I decided on the bottom right as the final design.

Cornlings are planned right from the start!

It was important to know exactly where my characters would be telling their story, this is a close family living in a very cosy and warm home. Of course every story needs a Cornling too although he was moved in the final edit to somewhere else so you will have to spot him in the finished book.

A very rough sketch of the family home.

This very early family live in a cave but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be full of home comforts. My ideas are scrawled all around the sketch. This view of the home is never shown in the final story but it helped me to have a good idea of where everyone belonged.

Baby Brother.

The first coloured image of Baby Brother, he is of course crying, poor little guy. Can you guess what will soothe him? feeding? changing? maybe. Drawing a baby was a challenge but it was a fun one and I just love drawing tiny baby feet which you will see in the book.

First Song will be available on Folksy and Amazon from September 13th and I really hope that you love it but if you can’t wait until then you can buy my previous titles from my Folksy shop and have them signed!

I am excited to see it in print so I best go and sort all of the finishing touches now! Look out for a preorder soon.

Thanks for reading,

Samantha Webbb.